THE PLANK DECEMBER 17, 2009
Divorce may or may not be ruining America, but it's wreaking havoc on the work of essayist Sandra Tsing Loh. Typically an exceedingly stylish, entertaining writer, Tsing Loh seems unable to construct a sentence these days that doesn't sound simultaneously whiny, narcissistic, self-justifying, and contemptuous of everyone else. Her latest piece in The Atlantic starts out talking about the confessions of other mothers but soon slides into: Boo hoo hoo, women were so mean to me when i wrote about cheating on my husband and getting divorced. How come they won't all just admit that their lives suck as much as mine did?
People praise Tsing Loh for her brutal honesty. Maybe, although acidity doesn't necessarily equal honesty. And despite all the flambyoant self-flagellation and aren't-I-horrible rhetoric, she comes across as pretty damn proud of her bad girl status--as if she fancies herself the tragic hero of some weird morality play. (Or maybe a juicy piece of beat poetry, since she characterizes her now-disheveled existence as Bukowski-esque). No matter: Increasingly, the incessant navel-gazing isn't so much stylish, brutal, or honest as it is tiresome.
It is past time for Tsing Loh to redirect her lens outward and save the self-indulgent personal wallowing for her Facebook friends.